The Challenge

Our client was a multinational Fortune 100 business where the CEO had decided to stand down, although this was neither known nor anticipated in the market. The Board had a strong internal candidate to succeed him but not all were convinced that he was ready for the role; they were keen therefore to take a comprehensive global look externally to find the best person to take the business forward at a pivotal point in its evolution.

Our Approach

We kicked off the process by spending time individually with the Chairman, the CEO and each of the Nominations Committee members to get their perspectives on the challenges the business faced and the optimal profile for the incoming CEO. At the same time, we arranged background briefings with selected analysts and experts to deepen our understanding of industry dynamics and their implications. Based on these inputs, we crystallised a brief for the role that was signed off by the Nominations Committee.

Next, we developed a shortlist of external candidates with the right profile who could be interested. To do this, we used our existing authority and knowledge of the market, together with global research in both our client’s broadly defined industry as well as in adjacent and analogous sectors, to develop a comprehensive audit of the external landscape and to identify possible candidates. We then approached our longlist of candidates to gauge their possible interest in such a role – without disclosing our client’s identity – and interviewed them to assess their detailed fit with the desired profile. From this, we developed and agreed with the Nominations Committee a recommended shortlist of three candidates to approach formally and prepared detailed reports on each, highlighting their experience and capabilities.

In parallel, we conducted a detailed assessment of the internal candidate. We briefed him to produce a structured CV together with a note outlining his vision for what he would do as CEO. We then interviewed him across two 2-hour sessions to probe his experience and credentials for the role. Based on this, we produced a comprehensive report on him for the Nominations Committee, laying out his credentials for the role, benchmarking his strengths and weaknesses against the external candidates and highlighting the key issues for them to explore in their own discussions.

The Chairman and Nominations Committee then met with the internal and lead external candidates to form their own perspectives on each candidate’s fit with the brief and what the business needed and identify their preferred option.

The Outcome

The Nominations Committee were excited by and aligned with the vision the internal candidate laid out and, with the help of our assessment, gained the confidence that he would rapidly grow into the role. They therefore decided to choose him and his succession was duly announced, without any prior external comment that a process had been underway. Since his appointment, the business has performed consistently well, with its share price outperforming its two key sector peers by 40% and 60% respectively.